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I'm pretty sure nothing mirrors LA's chaotic diversity quite like its cuisine. Burgers, tacos, noodles, nachos... everything from mexican to asian is considered "typical" in the area. Suffice to say, we did have some pretty pleasant meals during our stay. Here's a collection of my favorites:

 

1. The Running Goose

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This was our first meal in LA, having arrived the house late in the afternoon. We went out searching for some place to dinner and ended up here, walking distance from the Walk of Fame! I just want to point out that it was the first time having kale! Is there anything trendier than kale atm? I think not. I asked for the "Ricotta Masa Gnochi" and it was delish, only waaay to spicy for me! Other than that, I loved it! We were sat outside in the "garden" which is decorated with string lights and little bonfires. Very cozy for a march evening :)

 

2. Faith & Flower

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So, this is what happens when we let my sister pick the restaurant ahah. She swears it was in the 30$/2pax range in her zomato search, but I guess she just attracts fancy. And fancy doesn't even begin to explain Faith & Flower.

The waitress promptly explained we were supposed to ask for at least 2 dishes per person, because the portions were small and meant to be shared. With prices ranging from 15$ to 30$ per dish, you can only imagine my dad's face! However, it turned out to have a "raw bar" (aka sushi, for the less fancy) which kinda turned tables. My family loves sushi! As a vegetarian, I only ate the sides... all sorts of crisps, made from different seeds and grains. YUM! I should also add everyone loved their raw options! My dad still talks about it sometimes eheh. As for me, I asked for green beans tempura for starters and homemade pasta with butternut squash, smoked miso and nettles. It was by far one of the best meals in LA... I've attempted to somewhat recreate it home, that's how much I liked.

On the downside, yes, it was very very expensive (but worth it lol). I should also point out that my pasta took quite awhile to be served. This was because of their "sharing" policy: they'll bring some of the dishes first, and then the others. So if like me you're going to have your own dish you should probably ask for it to come with the first batch!

 

3. The Cheesecake Factory

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We did not have an actual meal in here, but it doesn't matter! After a couple of hours strolling around the Grove, we hopped in to grab some cheesecake slices on the go. My sister and I splitted two slices, strawberry and cookie dough, and my dad asked for the Godiva Chocolate one. Oh boy...! Every single one of them was absolutely tremendously delicious. I tried to pick I favorite, but it's impossible.The only thing I'd change would be the size, one slice is way too big for your average foodie, especially as a dessert. We had a hard time finishing ours, and ended up storing it in the freezer and eating the rest a couple of days later.

 

4. Solar de Cahuenga

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Last but definitely not least: my favorite spot in town! 

Just around the corner from our rented house, this was the chosen location for our first lunch. Chilled back environment, with it's exposed brick walls and wooden furniture. As for the menu, there's enough variety to please everyone! From breakfast food day-round (who doesn't love breakfast food?), crepes, toasts, salads and "proper" dishes with a few vegetarian options and even a couple of vegan ones as well. After some serious indecisiveness I opted for the falafel wrap, and couldn't have made a better choice! I'd never had falafel before, but I'm sure this was a great first time. The wrap was filled to the limit (so much so I couldn't finish it) and I chose a salad on the side, but daddy's fries were awesome as well. I also had a green smoothie (the "Alkalizer")  which was better than I expected. 

We went back to the Solar for dinner a couple of days later. This time I asked for the falafel salad... yes! Falafel again eheh. That's how much I loved it! I ordered another smoothie (the one with celery) and although it wasn't as good as the first, I certainly drank it all! 

I loved this place to bits, from the menu, to the (great quality) food, to the environment and the staff! Too bad I didn't get the chance to try any of their sweets, because they sure looked yummy. Maybe the next time?

(There'll definitely be a next time.)

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A couple of weeks back, I headed south with my sister to spend my midterm break in Lisbon. Whenever I go to Lisbon either my sister isn't there or we're in a rush - this time we had three lazy days ahead of us and made sure to check some of our plans off the list. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera home! Regarless, here's the outcome.

 

1. Fábrica Coffee Roasters

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I'd never heard of it before, but a quick look at zomato and I was sold. Upon arrival, we decided to go have breakfast: I asked for a cappuccino blend, my sister and our friend Margarida asked for macchiato blends. The coffee really, really good, however the macchiatos were too small, especially considering the price. Points for soy/lactose free milk, though! As for the food itself: my sister opted for toasts with butter (it wasn't on the list, but they said it was fine) - contrary to the beverages, we got two big piles of bread and little bowls of butter to spread as we'd please. Margarida asked for "Bolo Fábrica", their special cake which was basically layers of puff pastry and whipped cream... absolutely devine and surprisingly very light! 

 

The staff was nice but barely spoke any Portuguese - which only added to the weird feeling of not being in Lisbon, but rather in some fancy northen-Europe café. The space is very quiet cozy, especially for a rainy day, but also has tables outside. 

 

More info here.

 

2. Sweet Rolls

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Not really a café or shop per say, but rather a counter at the Ferry Terminal, Sweet Rolls brought the Transilvanya-born chimney cakes to western land. Having tried - and obsessed over - them in our trip to Budapest a few years ago, we were thrilled to give this a try. Unable to decide between chocolate chips, nutella or cacao, we opted for the classic one. Not as good as those the originals we'd had, but surely good enough to ease that Hungary nostalgia and put a smile on our faces (and tummies) in such a rainy day!

 

Check it out.

 

3. Landeau

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Lastly, but definitely not the least, was the famous Landeau chocolate cake. Considered by the New York Times one of the best chocolate cakes in the world, it's been years since we wanted to give this one a try, but it seemed as thought there timing was never right... Even this time around, a lot of running and praying was involved, but we eventually got to the picturesque shop in Chiado - five minutes before it closed.

 

Now I must admit I was a bit skeptical, because my mom found a heavenly chocolate cake elsewhere a couple of years ago and there was no doubt in my mind anything could possibly beat it. However, nothing could've prepared me for those fifteen minutes of pure lust and wonder as we ate. The cake itself consists of layers of fluffy sponge and rich mousse and is coated in a thick, silky layer of pure cacao. But somehow all of these components seem to blend perfectly in your mouth, balancing perfectly between the bitterness of the cacao and sweetness of the mousse and combining all three textures in a whole new, creamy, light one. In other words: a pure tribute to chocolate, taking its cult (religion?) to a whole new level. 

 

Do yourself a favour, and give it a try. Won't regret it.

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Last November, me and my family ebmarked in a short trip to Paris for my birthday. We left Friday night and returned Monday night.

 

I'd planned the whole trip in my head for the month prior, from what I'd wear, to what I'd eat and the pictures I wanted to take. Obviously, most things didn't go as I expected, something that paradoxically I was already expecting. However there was one thing I wasn't going to give up on: to have a deliciously parisien croissant on my birthday. And so on Monday, we left our picturesque apartment (one of the things that was just like I wanted it to be!) in the morning, in search of the best croissants in town. I had noted down a few of the most famous ones, but as we were heading to Le Marais the options were narrowed down to two: Miss Manon and Pôilane. We found the first one in the blink of an eye, only to find it closed... We carried on looking for the latter with me starting to get a bit unmotivated, but cheered by the cozy and comforting environment of the neighbourhood (a must visit if you're planning to go to Paris!). Unfortunately, it turned out Pôilane was also closed on Mondays. At this point I was sure my croissant endeavor had just blatantly failed (you must understand I am deeply emotional about croissants). It was a few corners ahead we finally found an open bistro, Le Voltigeur. As we approached it, I took a fast glance inside to find a table full of out-of-the-oven croissants just by the door. It was love at first sight, although only just the beginning. 

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We sat on a table by the window and asked for three croissants and a pain au chocolat for my dad. By the counter, crates of fruit had me ordering an orange juice as well. My sister opted to have her croissant with jam--not homemade, but just as delicious. If you haven't introduced Bonne Maman products to your life, you have been missing out! And as for the star of the show--the croissant--it was probably the best I had in my entire life and trust me, I'm a PhD when it comes to those. It was just and flaky and buttery as it's supposed to be, yet light and overall as yummy as it gets.

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But the irony is that I unintentionally ended up in a classic parisien café just like the ones I pictured in my daydreaming before the trip. The kind with stacks of books and smart looking people, big windows and sits outside with blankets for you to wrap in as you enjoy and take in Paris in all its glory. It's funny that while I was looking for acclaimed, fancy cafés that would be far from my imagination I ended up finding exactly what I was looking for, away from the tourist hustle and bustle and the overpriced goods. The lesson to take from here is: more than travelling, we should do some exploring. Forget the maps and the guides, trust our gut and just be in those places, going wherever they take us. I think that's the best way to truly know someplace new.

 

I doubt either Miss Manon or Pôilane can possibly have a croissant better than that one, but I will not mind testing it out so long as it means another trip to Paris ;)

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